Browse the First Church records in Millbury, Massachusetts
The original territory that is now Millbury, Mass. was purchased from John Wampus and a band of Nipmuc Indians. The purchasers' title was confirmed by the General Court in 1704, and the town was incorporated under the name Sutton in 1715. The early settlement was primarily due to the efforts of the proprietors of the township who, in 1715, granted four thousand acres of land to the first thirty settlers on the condition that they begin work on the land within six weeks.
A First Congregational Church (Sutton, Mass.) was founded in 1720. In 1742 three citizens of the town presented a petition to the General Court asking that the north part of Sutton be set off into a separate Precinct. The Court granted the petition in 1743 and the geographical limits then assigned to the "North Parish of Sutton" correspond to the present boundaries of the town of Millbury.
The first meeting of the Second Parish was held in 1743, and a Second Church in Sutton was formally organized in 1747. In March 1747 Rev. James Wellman was called to be minister of the Second Church. This invitation came before the church was officially organized or embodied, which finally occurred on September 10, 1747. Forty male members adopted a covenant similar to that of the First Church.
The early history of the church was marked by internal controversies and disturbances which also involved the First Parish in Sutton under the ministry of David Hall. A dispute appears to have commenced between Rev. Wellman and his parishioners as early as 1755. This resulted in a protracted conflict, with several ecclesiastical councils being called to resolve the matter. A council called at Sutton on July 1, 1760 advised that Rev. Wellman’s salary should be settled and that his ministry should be dissolved. This was enacted by the church and he was dismissed on July 22, 1760.
On September 12, 1764 the church voted to call Rev. Ebenezer Chaplain to the ministry, and he was ordained for that purpose on November 14, 1764. He was eventually dismissed in March of 1792 owing to a controversy arising from doctrinal differences. The next pastor of the church was Mr. Joseph Goffe. He was ordained pastor of the church Sept. 10, 1794. Records of the church from 1792 to 1827 are lost.
Early in the 19th century the north part of Sutton began to be called Millbury and in June 1813 the Second Church of Christ in Sutton was incorporated into the town of Millbury and since that date has been called the First Congregational Church in Millbury.
This collection records many aspects of the church's history and activities. Most of the early material relates to the trivial controversies that characterized the church. There are documents of charges, countercharges and defenses; reports of councils and meetings; and "divers proposals" designed to resolve the problems. In addition there are many records routinely kept by a church--lists of members, constitutions, transfers of membership, confessions, deeds, receipts, contracts, expenses, and treasurer's records.